Peak body Bicycle NSW says cycling in that state is “in crisis” with just 12.5% of the population riding a bike once per week. The lowest figure in Australia, this compares to the national average at 15.5% and neighbouring ACT – with the highest participation rate – at 46.5%.
The organisation has pointed to the fact that in recent weeks there have been a number of bicycle rider deaths and serious injuries on the state’s roads.
“In addition, a high number of Bicycle NSW Members have reported near passes which could have caused further serious injury or death,” they said in a statement released today.
Time For Action
Having had enough, Bicycle NSW has decided to act. “There needs to be a change in the current cycling environment in NSW,” Craig Meagher, the organisation’s CEO said today.
“Children are being forced to ride on the road at the age of 12. Adults who are rediscovering bike riding are being left with no option but to battle the roads. This is not an environment that encourages bike riding. Bicycle NSW has and always will advocate to create a better environment for cycling.”
“Today, I proudly announce that we are supporting footpath riding for all ages in NSW,”Meagher continued. “We are thankful to local, state and federal governments for the work they have already achieved for bike riding in NSW but now we are calling for more action.”
As the law stands, footpath riding is illegal for the majority of bike riders. Only children under 12 (and those supervising) are legally able to ride on footpaths.
When a child turns 12 in NSW they are forced to make the transition from riding on the footpath to riding on a road. Bicycle NSW says at this age children do not have the cognitive ability to ride on the road and mix with other vehicles safely. Unfortunately, making this transition often sees children turn away from bike riding as they no longer see it as a safe option for recreation, transport or fun.
‘We Should Be Encouraging Cycling’
Bicycle NSW state that with obesity increasing in Australia , we should be supporting more ways to improve the health of Australians.
“Bike riding is a great form of exercise that sees people commute to work,” Meagher said. “Ultimately, easing the strain on roads and public transport – a benefit for riders and the environment.”
“Unfortunately, the road can be an intimidating place for inexperienced riders, seniors and women. Providing a safe zone for these riders will encourage them to ride more and further, improving their health. Where segregated cycleways are not provided, having the footpath that they can safely share with pedestrians should be a viable option.”
Bicycle NSW said they understand there will need to be a transition period alongside an awareness campaign. “Bike riders will need to cycle on footpaths with respect for all those around them,” Meagher said. “They will need to be conscious and courteous to pedestrians and be aware of obstacles in their environment such as animals, uneven paths and rubbish bins.”
According to Bicycle NSW, allowing riding on footpaths in NSW will have the following benefits.
- It will encourage children to ride and continue to ride after they turn 12 .
- It will encourage riding for the less c onfident who don’t wish to ride on the road.
- It will provide an option for riders who experience difficulty in sections of their ride.
- Tourists will be encouraged to enjoy NSW by bike.
- More people will be encourage d to use bike shares for shorter trips the refore there will be less people on public transport in busy areas.
We are keen to hear from you – should riding on footpaths be allowed in the state of New South Wales? Have Your say below.